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Principled Selling: A Book Review

I think that the subtitle says a great deal about this captivating new book. It says simply “How to win more business without selling your soul.”

If you have been involved in professional services marketing or business development for any period of time you will immediately recognize the pain. Many professionals feel utterly trapped by the need to sell their services on one hand and their revulsion of anything having to do with sales on the other.

Principled Selling Book CoverInto the middle of this dilemma steps David Tovey and his new book, Principled Selling: How to Win More Business Without Selling Your Soul. David Tovey is a UK-based speaker, writer and authority on sales. In this volume he presents a compelling and easy-to-understand argument about a better approach to the whole topic of professional services selling.

David identifies two pervasive forces that are reshaping the marketplace. The first is a major erosion of public trust in the many institutions of society. While he shares the data to make his point, one only need watch the nightly news to know that he is right.

People have become increasingly cynical and are on high alert for any sign that they are being manipulated into buying something they do not need or which might be falsely advertised. But that is not all.

The rise of the internet and social media is fundamentally changing the dynamics of the entire marketing and sales process. Buyers are now in a position to research just about any service and learn about any provider’s reputation within a matter of moments. As our own research shows, a service provider’s reputation is a major factor in the marketplace's new firm selection process.

One of my favorite quotes from the book comes from a government procurement specialist talking about how so many sellers try to get at motivations by asking superficial questions such as “What keeps you up at night?”. She describes how those questions are interpreted as clumsy attempts to make sales as quickly as possible. And she adds, “I have news for you — we choose who we allow to understand us.”

I think that David’s key insight is that there is an approach to selling that addresses all of these challenges. He argues that his Principled Selling approach is not only consistent with the ethical sensibilities of today’s professional services providers, it is also more effective.

With today's ethos of mistrust and the vast quantity of information available to all, it is easier than ever to spot the hucksters and manipulators. They will not garner the trust nor reap the benefits associated with becoming a trusted team member.

I find it hard to argue with his perspective. It is consistent with our research and my own personal experience and approach. If you are honest and keep your potential clients' best interests in mind, clients recognize it and respond accordingly.

The bulk of this book focuses on how to implement a Principled Selling approach individually or across your firm. The book is clearly organized with plenty of summary points and case studies to illustrate Tovey's key points. The writing style is approachable easy to understand.

This book is perfect for the professional services marketer who is trying to establish an effective business development culture in a firm that is conflicted about selling. By that criterion it ought to be a best seller!

 

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Author: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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